Hip-Hop History Tuesdays: December 24th On Hollis Ave. + Other Classic Hip-Hop Holiday Raps

Posted by Billyjam, December 24, 2013 10:25am | Post a Comment

Run DMC "Christmas In Hollis" (1987)

Dating back to the mid 1980's many hip-hoppers have recorded Christmas/Holiday Season songs  including the Treacherous Three's "Santas Rap" from the 1984 hip-hop film Beat Street (scroll down to see video clip below), and of course the truly classic Run DMC Christmas song from 1987 that still gets much play to this day  - "Christmas In Hollis" with that memorable opening "It was December 24th on Hollis Ave in the dark when I seen a man chilling with his dog in the park."  To me what makes this Run DMC song such a perfect timeless Christmas classic is that it both managed to maintain that distinct Run DMC rap flavor but also had the perfect Christmas vibe to it. This it achieved with the bells ringing throughout and also how the track nicely worked into its urban Xmas tale such traditional Christmas song melodies as "Frosty The Snowman. The Run DMC song appeared on both the original A Very Special Christmas various artists/genres compilation and on the Profile Records all hip-hop holiday 1987 compilation Christmas Rap that also featured such rappers as Sweet Tee, King Sun, Spyder-D, and Dana Dane all busting out Christmas raps.

Run DMC's classic accompanying video for "Christmas In Hollis" appears above while below is another Christmas rap hit: Kurtis Blow's "Christmas Rappin" from 1979 - although the version is from BBC TV's Top Of The Pops about a week after Christmas in early January 1980.    That holiday rap song by Kurtis Blow coincidentally was also the artist's very first record with his breakout hit "The Breaks" being released the following year. Another early era Christmas hip-hop release was the single "Christmas Rapping" from early days UK rapper Dizzy Heights that was released as in both 7" and 12" vinly formats by Polydor in 1982.

Kurtis Blow "Christmas Rappin" (1979)

In hip-hop history hip-hop urban themed Christmas rap songs became much more common with the advent of the 1990's. While still based in Richmond, CA Master P's West Coast Bad Boyz released the excellent EP High Fo' Xmas in 1994. The EP boasted some memorable seasonal raps such as "Christmas In The Ghetto."  Two Christmas seasons later in 1996 was Death Row's 2LP (single CD) 16 song set compilation Christmas On Death Row featuring Snoop Dogg's standout track "Santa Claus Goes Straight to the Ghetto" featuring Nate Dogg (see video below) that kept the spirit of James Brown alive (another artist who made some timeless seasonal music with his album James Brown's Funky Christmas). Ambitious as the 16 track Quad City: All Star Christmas by the Quad City DJs and friends was, the 1996 release is more of a novelty item nowadays. In contrast, the more recently released Jim Jones' 2006 production A Dipset X-Mas, with ten songs including "Dipset Xmas Time" featuring Mel Matrix and Stack Bundles, looks like it will pass the test of time and should be around for many future Christmases.  In 2007 Ludicris recorded "Ludicrismas" for the not so great holiday movie Fred Claus staring Vince Vaughn and Paul Giamatti that, for some reason, the song from the movie is not included on the accompanying soundtrack. 

There are many hip-hop songs that use the Christmas/Holiday theme more so as a metaphor to drive home a point or to make a message. Atmosphere's "If I Was Santa Claus" from 2001's Lucy Ford. That Atmosphere EP's has Slug rapping lyrics like "And if I was Santa Claus, I'd fight for the cause. Wouldn't expect nothing in return. I'd give you everything you want." Even more serious and less seasonal in its theme is De La Soul's "Millie Pulled A Pistol On Santa," which, while making a strong case against sexual abuse, is far from festive. For fun and festive, check out the videos above and below from Kurtis Blow, Run DMC, Snoop & Nate Dogg, and The Treacherous Three in the scene from the movie Beat Street. Merry Christmas!

Scene from Beat Street (1984) with the Treacherous Three "Santas Rap"

Nate Dogg & Snoop Dogg "Santa Claus Goes Straight To The Ghetto" (1996)

Relevant Tags

Master P (7), Christmas Rap (3), Hip-hop History (62), Beat Street (3), Treacherous Three (1), Snoop Dogg (22), Run Dmc (16)